Tuesday, April 19, 2011

If It's Tuesday, It Must Be Street Date: 4/19/11


Dusty Wright's first three solo records were collections of songs; songs that represented his influences in life and music. Too often though, the records played that way. Some songs worked, while others tried too hard to evoke a time or a place, relying on style and not substance.  On his 4th release, "If We Never...," Dusty Wright has hit the mark. This is more than a collection of songs. It is a musically coherent album, showcasing a singer-songwriter who seems to have finally found his comfort zone.

Songs like "Swirl," "Sometimes I," and "Breathe," tracks 2-4 on "If We Never..." boast the elements of classic record-making; hooks, harmonies, key changes and smart production. Wright's earlier releases found him struggling at times to find a voice. Here, his vocals are relaxed. He sounds happy with himself, but not smug. "Lustful Blues" is a stand-out, not because it's the best track on the record, but because its smoky, dark-alley arrangement hits you by surprise at just the right time. At Track 6, it's the perfect breather on a very personal record.

There are bittersweet moments, as on the ballad "Uncertain" and the album opener, "Comfort Me," where Wright wears his heart on his sleeve. Thankfully, it all works. "If We Never..." is a solid record from Dusty Wright and a piece of work that is worth your time.

You can find it on iTunes or at www.DustyWright.com


Brian Setzer has always struck me as a musician who was too good for any of the bands and projects he was associated with...kind of like watching Paul Newman in "The Towering Inferno." The Stray Cats were fine for awhile, but never really got beyond novelty, and the "big band" revival was even worse. That simply annoyed me. But, Setzer is a guitar-god and has an amazing singing voice. (Check out the Stray Cats' 50s slow-dance, "I Won't Stand In Your Way." Still my fave Cats' moment.)

Now, on "Brian Setzer Goes Instru-MENTAL," he nails it, well without the vocal part. A selection of originals and covers like Ray Noble's "Cherokee" and "Blue Moon Of Kentucky," SGI smokes with killer arrangements and guitar playing that will make your jaw drop.  Admittedly, I can't really figure out what makes this type of a record any less novelty than a rockabilly or big band revival, other than I like it better.


The umpteenth reissue of the first three Kinks' records, "Kinks," "Kinda Kinks," and "The Kinks' Kontroversy," now each boasting a second disc and given the seal of approval by Ray Davies. If there are any Kinks-heads out there who can share some pertinent info such as whether or not they truly sound better than previous versions, if the bonus material appearing is really new to collectors, or any other helpful tips, it'd be appreciated.


April 12th saw a big release day with new, solid records by k d lang, Alison Krauss, and The Feelies. But the 2 that really stand out for me are Paul Simon's "So Beautiful Or So What" and the Foo Fighters' Wasting Light."

The Foos don't break any new ground, really, but "Wasting Light" is consistent, and I'm happy with that.  Paul Simon, on the other hand, released an album that has slowly seeped into my veins. My first reaction was, "I'm not going to love this just because it DOESNT sound like "The Rhythm Of The Saints." But, after a number of spins, I can no longer reject what is now becoming my favorite Paul Simon album since "There Goes Rhymin' Simon."


Shriner said...

My fave Setzer album (and I still listen to everything he's released as I think he's an unsung guitar hero) still remains "The Knife Feels Like Justice". I thought everything he could never do in the Stray Cats just poured out of him on that album and he's never quit reached that pinnacle again (though the *first* big-band album is pretty great, too...)

As for the Foo Fighters album -- I like it. But I find myself thinking the FF have become a lot like Paul Weller at this point: Solid albums/tunes that I won't turn off if they come around on the shuffle, but if you asked me what album the songs came off of -- I couldn't tell you. Whether that's *consistency* -- or whether it's *sameness* (two different things), I couldn't tell you.

The Paul Simon, I've not got around to considering. The Caveman thing sounded really tired to me (and I figured he was winding down as an artist), so he's dropped off my radar. Sounds like it's worth tracking down, though?

Sal Nunziato said...

Shriner, you're not the first to point out "The Knife Feels Just Like Justice." I need to go back to that. I just don't remember it.

cmealha said...

I'm not a big FF fan but there are songs here and there that I do like a lot. They've been making the rounds and I've caught a couple of their performances and the new material sounds really good. Definitely worth exploring.

Bryan Setzer one of those guys that I've always considered really good but I've never taken the plunge with his stuff. You posted the Stray Cats' version of Sleepwalk which I thought was great. I've been going back and picking up some of his stuff as a result. Quality stuff.

I think Paul Simon is one of the best writers ever. He's fallen by the wayside for quite a while but this one sounds like a return to form. Can wait to hear it in its entirety.

steve simels said...

Re: Brian Setzer.

Ever hear The Bloodless Pharohs (or however it was spelled?) The artsy New Wave band he was in before the Stray Cats?

Trust me -- there was a project he wasn't better than.

Sal Nunziato said...

@Simels, no and HA! Should I bother out of curiousity?

shausler said...

in reference to the Paul Simon,
i couldn't agree more! an overdue gem!

J. Loslo said...

For those who don't insist on a physical copy of their albums, Setzer's album is today's $3.99 download at Amazon.

"I Won't Stand In Your Way" is my favorite Stray Cats song, too.

Bulletins From Mars Hill said...

Street Date is back! YES!!!!

Ken D said...

I liked the Paul Simon from the get-go. I even coughed up an extra $20 on my public radio donation to get a copy.

I'm curious, though, about the Feelies album... it doesn't even merit a response either way?

William Repsher said...

The Kinks Deluxe reissues look like the real deal, but at this point, I can't be bothered. I was on vacation in Scotland when the Castle reissues came out in the mid-90s and made sure to buy them all at the HMV in Glasgow. (I think that first wave was the first four albums.) Was over the moon to have that stuff pre-American release and still listen to them today ... only to find that if you talk to an "audio enthusiast" of the kind you'll find at the Steve Hoffman Music Forums, these reissues are a blight on humanity and an audio embarassment. (They still sound fine to me ...)

Early Kinks is like early Who or Stones -- early anything 60s British that wasn't George Martin-produced: it sounds rough. I'm not sure Shel Talmy or Kit Lambert knew what they were doing in the studio as producers -- or at least the Beatles albums sounded so much sharper and full (which I write down to Martin being an actual producer as opposed to manager/hustler). All those bands eventually caught up, but you can hear the difference up through 1966 or so. But I'm sure you can't go wrong buying these reissues if so inclined.

Noam Sane said...

Love Tuesdays around here.

Setzer's a big old cornball, sometimes. Usually. But, he sure can play that Gretsch. Will check out Mental.

I guess I'm the only person in the world who thought Surprise was fantastic. I played the crap out of it for a couple of years. Just heard an NPR review of the new album and not a mention of it there, either. Damn, people. Songs are great and the production is gorgeous...in fact, the new one is a bit of a let-down for me so far, after the last one.

steve simels said...

Sal --

I haven't heard the Bloodless Pharohs stuff in a couple of years; I tracked the stuff down out of historical curiosity early in the download era.

My recollection is that its really arch and pretentious, but as I didn't save the mp3s, I can't say definitively.

soundsource said...

Just commenting cause i can. Been up in the great white north (montreal) where much to my surprise there are an amazing number of retail music outlets. As to Brian Setzer I'll chime in on the Knife album, ever since I saw him do songs from that album live and in the pouring rain at the first farm aid (not there on tv) I've loved that record. Go Habs, later Josef, eh

Grant said...

Hey Sal,

Man, I love that new Paul Simon record. Not every song is a classic -- sometimes his "I will be an author and create these character vignettes about blue collar people who work at car washes" thing is a bit much -- but songs like "The Afterlife," the title song and "Waiting For Christmas Day" -- not to mention the sparkling "Amulet" -- are among his best ever.

And funny you mention "Rhymin' Simon"... that is my #2 LP ever, right behind "Something/Anything." Never gets old.

Sal Nunziato said...

@Ken D. I did refer to The Feelies as "solid."

@William Repsher
Like you, I thought those Castle reissues sounded fine. On the other hand, the "Picture Book" box didn't astound me. So, is it time to dive in again? If so, is it because of the sound or the extras?

I really liked "Surprise." But I have never gone back. I usually need at least one song that I have to hear on repeat. So far, there are at least 4 on the new one.

jaywaywick said...

Don't know about the sonic quality but I have seen the track lists. The second discs seem to have a few demos but mostly BBC stuff. Don't know if it's what we've heard before but some are in stereo. Not sure if I'll spring for this one...

Shriner said...

Having never heard of the Bloodless Pharoahs, I let the internet find it for me.

After a couple of songs, I'd describe it as "shitty Joy Division -- with a guitar player".

That's 20 minutes of my life I'll never get back.

It doesn't dim my love of BS, though!

William Repsher said...

Also noticed the Kinks reissues are pricey for material this old. Amazon has them for just over $20, but I noticed J&R has them for $27, which is probably more in line with any walk-in retail transaction. I'm sure these things sound phenomenal ... and I understand Arthur and Something Else (but not Face to Face) are in the pipeline for Deluxe Edition reissue in June. I'd be buying mostly for the sound -- and the thrill of buying Kinks product -- but again, I'm holding off. Hell, if Emusic picked them up and I could knock off key tracks for 80 cents a piece, I'd be more inclined to spend my money that way. But I gather these are geared more the buyer who wants that "physical product" experience!